Polemical Tactics

Translated by Robert F. Evans

In her struggle with the heretics, a struggle which was also a contest for the extension of her own influence, Rome employed various tactics which can even better illuminate for us the whole nature of this controversy and Rome's significance in it. But the importance of the controversy must be assessed correctly, and again a great deal hinges upon our acquiring a true-to-life picture from indications in the sources, even if some degree of imagination should be necessary in order that this picture be brought into focus. Concerning Rome's achievement with respect to Corinth at the time of Clement, one could scarcely accord a higher estimate to it than has been given above. Nevertheless, the words of Dionysius of Corinth in his letter to Soter (above, 104) would in my opinion be incorrectly interpreted if one were to deduce from them that Rome had attained and had permanently insured its goal through the repeated public reading of 1 Clement in the meetings of the Corinthian community. That portentous document hardly crushed and converted the members of a type of Christianity in which no serious attention was paid even to Pauline utterances. The "young Turks" of Corinth and their leaders would more likely feel irritated than put to shame by this act of foreign intervention. The undoubted Roman success was surely achieved by the employment of tactics which 1 Clement rather more conceals from us than reveals. Regrettably we also do not know what made the influence of Titus in his time so effective that the community, once almost lost, found its way back to Paul. We can no [[112]] longer say with certainty who played the role of Titus at the time of Clement; most probably the three bearers of the letter did -- Claudius Ephebus, Valerius Biton, and Fortunatus (1 Clem. 65.1). I should be inclined to suppose that they [116] presented the basic ideas of the Roman position to the Corinthians in a much more comprehensible and effective form than did the long-winded letter. Relying upon the authority of those who had sent them, and supported by the minority at Corinth, they may also have been successful in forcing upon the unreliable, plural presbyterate an energetic bishop from the circle of elders. For Hegesippus, in any event, it is a foregone conclusion that one bishop has long stood at the head of the Corinthian church and has made its orthodoxy his business.

It is clearer that Rome appealed to the apostles for justification of her action, and did this with all the more reason if our view has commended itself that the deposed presbyters in Corinth were the continuators of the apostolic line in that community. Precisely in those chapters which most clearly touch upon the controversy does the discussion turn repeatedly to the apostles (42.1-2) or to our apostles (44.1), as those who have been instructed by Christ and through him establish the only possible contact with God. As early as the fifth chapter, the worthy apostles Peter and Paul are presented as examples -- victims of envy, strife, and jealousy (5.2-7), as now most recently are the elders of Corinth. Peter and Paul are the only apostles whom the West has at its disposal. Both had suffered as martyrs in Rome, and the Roman church was conscious of this distinction from the outset and also knew from the beginning how to invest this asset to advantage. When Ignatius, who in all his letters to the churches again and again refers to "the apostles," refers only to "Peter and Paul" as apostles in the letter to Rome (4.3), it is because this association is of Roman origin. An Antiochian would have been the very last to gain the impression from the history of his own church that precisely these two apostles belong in close connection.

Likewise, Dionysius of Corinth is not looking back to the past of his own church but rather over to Rome when he writes: "By such a forceful admonition, you [Romans] now have united the communities of Romans and Corinthians planted by Peter and Paul. For both planted also in our city of Corinth and instructed us in like manner, and in like manner also taught together in Italy and suffered martyrdom [[113]] [117] at the same time" (EH 2.25.8). For even if Peter personally had been in Corinth,1 a supposition which admittedly I consider to be almost impossible, certainly Dionysius 120 years later does not have at his disposal a tradition to this effect that is in any way defensible. I am skeptical not only because the details that he adduces are incorrect, insofar as the two apostles cannot possibly have appeared together in Corinth, thence to continue their work in close association at Rome. But I am even more dubious for another reason. Dionysius does not learn from history the only thing that history could teach him, namely, that Paul and Peter visited Corinth and Rome; rather he has Peter and Paul (in that order) sowing the undivided planting which consists of the Romans and then only secondarily of the Corinthians. He pays homage in submissive manner to the Romans and to their "blessed bishop" Soter (makarios episkopos, EH 4.23.10); is happy that the Romans, by their intervention at the time of Clement, have, as he expresses it, bound Rome and Corinth inseparably together; and suns himself in the splendor of the apostolic celebrities of Rome, who, as he delights to show, belong also to Corinth.

The basis for the supposition that in Dionysius' view Peter came from Rome to Corinth is strengthened for me by a corresponding observation concerning Antioch. We believe that the slogan "Peter and Paul" in Ignatius' letter to the Romans should be understood as a Roman contribution (above, 112). This becomes even clearer in view of the further development for which Rome sets the pace, which is characterized by the harmonization of opposing interests. Harnack has demonstrated,2 with documentary evidence which need not here be reproduced, how toward the end of the second century "that momentous transformation of tradition took place in Rome, by virtue of which Paul was eliminated from any connection with the Roman episcopate and the office was attached to Peter" (703). The latter alone continues to play a role, first as founder of the Roman episcopate, later as first bishop (704). There is already an intimation here of what it was that prompted Rome to cut in half the apostolic foundation of its own church. Until far into the second century there [[114]] has developed here [118], almost undisturbed, a consolidation of "orthodoxy," and accordingly Hermas, who has no heresies in view,3 still presupposes a number of leaders at the head of the church.4 But eventually not even Rome was spared controversy with the heretics, above all with Marcion and Valentinus, and this made even Rome recognize the advantages of her own use of the monarchial episcopate, an institution which in Rome is first embodied in Soter (166-174), according to a historical view of the matter.5 But if an apostolic founder of the monarchical episcopate was still required, an exigency which the struggle with heresy did indeed produce, then a decision had to be made, which, as we have seen, did in fact take place a bit later. If one asks why the decision went in favor of Peter, I find no answer in Matthew 16.17-19. But I also do not believe that any important role in the decision was played by the recollection that Paul actually had been in Rome only as a prisoner and therefore can hardly have held the chief office. The real reasons are not forthcoming from history, but rather must be grounded in the period of time and in the momentum which saw the introduction of the monarchical episcopate in Rome, and thus made the one apostle dispensable -- which is to say in the controversy with heresy. Only Peter provides the close tie to Jesus which alone guarantees the purity of church teaching.6 And Paul, who had indeed been eminently serviceable against the schismatics in Corinth (1 Clement 47.1), was no longer of any help in the battle against Marcion. [119]

At a slightly later date than in Rome, Peter also emerges in Antioch as the first of the monarchical bishops. Here too it was certainly not historical memory that elevated him to the cathedra. Our oldest tradition, Galatians 2.11 ff., knows of Peter in Antioch only in a [[115]] situation that would hardly have qualified him to become leader of the community; thus one would have to claim that Peter's position as leader was confined to the period before the clash with Paul. This opinion is, in fact, to be found in John Malalas (ca. 540), and there with reference to "the most learned Chronicles of Clement and Tatian."7 But precisely the reference to Clement, who can be none other than Clement of Alexandria,8 deprives the Byzantine author's notice of even that meager weight it might claim in view of both its contents and the trustworthiness of Malalas. It is to be remembered that in the opinion of Clement, the Cephas who had the famous confrontation with Paul was someone other than the apostle Peter (Outlines 5, in EH 1.12.2). The book of Acts knows nothing at all of Peter in Antioch and in fact really excludes such a possibility. That he did not found the Christian community there is clear from Acts 11.19 ff. Nor is he sent, in contrast to the case of Samaria (8.14), from Jerusalem to Antioch for the purpose of inspecting the newly founded community. This task falls rather to Barnabas (11.22). And in view of 13.1, the "other place" to which Peter went after being set free (12.17) really seems more likely to refer to any city but the one city Antioch.

In the following period, it is true, one or another thread of evidence leads from Antioch to Peter. Ignatius makes reference to an apocryphal gospel story in which Peter and his companions figure (Smyr. 3.2). A group of Christians in Greek Syria a bit later tried through Peter to establish their line of contact with the life of Jesus (above, 66) and thereby gave occasion for the Antiochian bishop Serapion to speak about "Peter and the other apostles" (EH 6.12.3). But certainly the Gospel of Peter did not provide grounds for, of all people, the "ecclesiastical" circles of Antioch to choose Peter as their first bishop. How long had this notion been present there? Julius Africanus plainly does not yet know anything of it, but [120] designates Euodius as the first Antiochian bishop,9 as does Eusebius in dependence upon him (EH 3.22). In another place, to be sure, [[116]] Eusebius says the illustrious Ignatius had been the second bishop in the succession from Peter at Antioch (EH 3.36.2). We hardly have the right forcibly to insert Euodius here, with the result that Peter would now not be bishop himself but would be viewed only as having established the episcopal office at Antioch. In both passages Ignatius is numbered as "second" (deuteros), and both passages place only one name before him. Each passage in itself seems to me unequivocal, and a collector such as Eusebius gives us the very least reason for forcibly harmonizing contradictory statements. We have all the more reason for keeping Euodius out of the picture in EH 3.36.2 insofar as the succession Peter-Ignatius is found also in Origen, the spiritual father of Eusebius. Origen calls Ignatius "the second bishop of Antioch after the blessed Peter."10 Chrysostom and Theodoret also fail to include Euodius.11

The chronological impossibility of this arrangement is obvious. No proof at all is needed for the thesis that for Antioch that form of the list which places Euodius at the beginning is just as certainly the earlier as is that for Rome which commences with Linus.12 Not until later was the attempt made to free Euodius' place in favor of Peter. Therefore it is not historical memory that is operative here, but a specific ecclesiastical requirement. The only question is, who is the "interested party" here, Rome or Antioch? Harnack supposes it to be the latter. He speaks of the "Antiochian cathedra Petri" and the "Alexandrian cathedra Marci" as "oriental imitative products," and of the "oriental imitations of the tendentious legend" which "followed hard on the heels of the original fiction." Although these constructions frequently were to become irksome to Rome at a later time, Rome nonetheless put up with them "because there was no way to control these fictions."13

Here, it strikes me, Rome is credited with a reserve and moderation in the use of effective tactics that has little relationship to its genius [[117]] and circumstances. I can well imagine that Antioch and Alexandria could take over the method, proven in the battle with heresy, [121] of forming a succession of bishops which derives from the circle of the twelve. But it is more difficult to understand why they should latch on to Peter, and still more, if they could not get Peter, why they should be content with a figure of the second rank [Mark] instead of choosing someone else from that illustrious band of Jesus' closest friends. Actually, the party enthusiastic for Mark is not Alexandria but Rome; traces of Rome's influence on his behalf are discernible there (see above, 60). Through Mark his son and interpreter the Roman Peter (see above, 107) announces his claims, since he himself is much too busy in Jerusalem, Antioch, Corinth, and Rome to be able to go personally in quest of Alexandria also, which is off the beaten track for him.14

And so, just as I was of the opinion that I should view "Peter and Paul" in Ignatius as a sign of Roman influence (above, 112), I should be inclined also to find Roman influence in the assertion of a later period that Peter originally had been in the position of leadership at Antioch, an assertion which flies completely in the face of Antiochian history. Origen, who has confronted us as the first clear witness for Peter in his office as Antiochene bishop, also was acquainted with the original document underlying the pseudo-Clementines15 and in his commentary on Genesis (see above, 105 n.19) introduced an excerpt from it with the words: "Clement the Roman, a disciple of the apostle Peter . . . in Loadicea, says in the `Journeys' (en tais Periodois), . . . he says. . . ." If Syrian Laodicea played a role in the ancient document, then in all probability so did neighboring Antioch, which is closely tied to Laodicea in the fully developed form of the pseudo-Clementines. The Homilies, we remember, [[118]] close with the notice that Peter set out from [122] Laodicea for Antioch (20.23), where Simon Magus, after some initial and very large successes, had suffered his decisive defeat (20.11-22).16 And the Recognitions are in agreement especially in the concluding narrative (10.53-72), which is only spun out a bit further and concludes with a description of the founding of the church at Antioch: a certain Theophilus places his basilica at the disposal of the community for use as a church, and in it is erected a cathedra for Peter (Rec. 10.71-72).17

How many of these details relative to Antioch already stood in the original "Journeys" (Periodoi) eludes precise determination. But it seems certain to me that the close connection with the quite explicitly Roman figure of Clement, whom the original Clementine document already calls "Clement the Roman" (Klhmhs ho Rwmaios), also stamps the Peter of the Periodoi as the Roman Peter. He, and not the head of the primitive community at Jerusalem (Jerusalem plays no role at all in this literature), claims the leading position in the founding of the Antiochian church. Of Paul working along with him, there is just as little said here as is being said in Rome at the same time. And when Peter ascends the cathedra in the basilica-turned-church belonging to "a certain Theophilus," it is not at all easy to suppress the following suspicion: here is a memory alluding to the way in which ecclesiastical Antioch under her bishop Theophilus (d. after 181), well known as an opponent of Marcion and other heretics (EH 4.24), marches up to the anti- heretical front led by Rome, a front which then later gains even firmer unanimity and stability in the shared conviction that it was established by Peter.

At Antioch, as at Rome and Alexandria, a first step in this direction was the attempt to build up an unbroken succession of orthodox bishops reaching back into the time of the church's founding. That also on this point Rome led the way is proven by the fact that the symptomatic efforts toward this end begin at Antioch later than at Rome and lead to less useful results (see above, 63f.). As the Lord delayed his return and the necessity arose to preserve contact with him, [123] Christians had at first tried to avail themselves of simple [[119]] means of assistance. They possessed the apostles, and later at least the disciples of the apostles; and when these died out, certain "elders" (presbuteroi) continued the succession, men who still personally remembered the apostles' disciples and perhaps even remembered one or another real apostle. Or there lay at hand in the community an "ancient one" (arxaios anhr),18 a man deriving from the very primitive period -- in whom was honored the connective link to the beginning. It is obvious that the terms "apostle's disciple," "presbyter-elder," and "man of the primitive period" were not subject to sharp definition nor were clearly distinguished from one another.19 But it is just as clear that precisely for this reason they were useful only for a transitional period. Irenaeus believed that he was linked to Jesus himself with the help of only two intermediaries, Polycarp and John. And Clement of Alexandria was certain that by such a route he came quite close to the first successors of the apostles.20 His teachers, he says, received the "blessed teaching" personally from the apostles Peter, James, John, and Paul (Strom. 1.[1.]11). But these long drawn out lines, which after all could not be established without a darkening of historical memory -- how were they to withstand a serious attack of the enemy? And were not the opponents likewise able to come up with apostolic traditions? Did not Basilides derive his wisdom directly from Glaukias, Peter's interpreter (Strom. 7.[17.]106.4), or even from Matthias,21 [124] and Valentinus his [[120]] from Theodas the disciple of Paul (Strom. 7.[17.]106.4)? Indeed Ptolemy the Valentinian hopes that Flora will "be worthy of the apostolic tradition which we also have received in unbroken succession, together with the authentication of all our theses by the teaching of our Savior."22

In Rome, where the whole environment spurred the Christians on toward the creation of stable forms for life in the community, there was evidently a refusal at first to rely on a couple of more or less doubtful personages for the most important position there was and for its continuation -- personages, moreover, whose brittle chain of succession offered no security for the immediate future. Then, too, the apostolic period in Rome had been much too short and had been broken off too early for there to have grown up any significant or numerically extensive group of apostles' disciples and "very ancient men." With Mark one did not get very far. And one can only guess how extensively the ranks of this very circle were thinned out by the Neronian and later the Domitian persecutions, and by whatever else may have occurred in between. The individuals of whose activity we hear, a Linus or a Clement (Irenaeus AH 3.3.3), were in any case already dead by the end of the first century. Irenaeus made no belated attempt to bring a successor of Clement into personal acquaintance with the apostles, whereas in Asia Minor "John" outlived Clement, to say nothing of Papias and Polycarp,23 by means of whom one was brought up almost to the middle of the second century and even beyond. Hegesippus, belonging to the company of those who followed immediately upon the apostles,24 reached even farther. The prerequisites for securing the tradition in another manner probably were already present in Rome well at the beginning of the second century. That a few decades passed before these measures began to come into effect is to be explained by the fact that the [[121]] danger of heresy, and thereby the necessity for such measures, was not experienced in Rome until a comparatively late date (see above, 113 f.). [125] But precisely this fact shows us again that those localities which experienced the tension between heresy and orthodoxy much earlier and more incisively than did Rome, but which came to employ that particular defensive tactic only later and less thoroughly than Rome, were not acting independently but rather were under outside, i.e. Roman, influence.

This influence makes itself noticeable also in other ways. Ignatius praises the Romans as those who have been teachers to other Christians -- "you taught others" (allous edidacate, Rom. 3.1). The past tense of the verb prevents us from regarding these words as only a polite turn of phrase, an interpretation which may well be applicable to the present tense of Paul's statement in his letter to the Romans (15.14). Ignatius is evidently aware of attempts of the Roman community to exercise a teaching influence upon Christians in other places. And we know already that his contemporary and coreligionist Polycarp was thoroughly familiar with 1 Clement (above, 103) and with 1 Peter (above, 107), those two Roman manifestos addressed to other Christian churches (see above, 104, on Hermas). In like manner, Ignatius also may have heard of these letters, although the ascertainable echoes do not suffice to demonstrate this. Indeed one need not exclude the possibility that Rome, spurred and encouraged by its success at Corinth turned its attention to the Christians of Antioch itself, in which case the latter also would belong to those "others" whom Ignatius has in mind in the passage cited above.

This supposition would gain probability if we may venture to interpret the formula which Ignatius applies to the Roman church, prokaqhmhnh ths agaphs (Rom. salutation), in the light of later statements. The words mean, "endowed with preeminence in love."25 And this phrase calls to mind almost involuntarily the oft-mentioned letter of Dionysius of Corinth to the Roman church and its bishop Soter (EH 4.23.10). Full of the highest praise, the letter speaks of the way in which the Romans from the beginning (ex arxhs) had been accustomed to shower benefits in many ways upon all Christians and to offer aid to many communities in whatever city (kata pasan [[122]] polin). Thus the Romans from the earliest origins occupied themselves with preserving their ancestral customs (arxhqen patroparadoton eqos Rwmaiwn Rwmaioi fulattontes). Indeed the activity of their present bishop, the makarios Soter, represents even an intensifying of the old practice. This is certainly [126] to be seen as exaggeration, the exaggerated style of a churchman subservient to Rome in the extreme degree. But these accents gain their peculiar quality and strength surely from the recollection that Corinth, already at an earlier time, has been the recipient of such assistance from Rome. Rome hardly supported the "young Turks" whom 1 Clement attacks. It seems to me all the more probable that among the tactics used to break their rebellion and their hegemony, even monetary gifts were placed at the disposal of their opponents, and that such gifts were not the least reason why their opponents emerged victorious. In the grateful memory of ecclesiastical Corinth at a later time, Rome's assistance appears as a work of love for the beneflt of the entire Corinthian church.

Since we have already become acquainted with Roman influence at Antioch, which was oriented similarly to Rome's successful undertaking at Corinth (see above, 114 ff.), I should like to interpret the words quoted above from the preface of Ignatius' letter to the Romans as signifying that even Antioch -- meaning, of course, ecclesiastical Antioch -- had been privileged to enjoy material support from Rome. And so as not to leave Alexandria out of the picture, alongside Corinth and Antioch, on the matter of relations with Rome, let us now recall the letter of Dionysius of Alexandria to the Roman bishop Stephen I (254-57; EH 7.5.2). The letter even includes "the whole of Syria" among the regions privileged to benefit from Roman sacrificial unselfishness, and reveals that Rome's shipments of aid are accompanied by letters. Likewise in the letter of Dionysius of Corinth the donations for the saints and the instructions to the brethren coming to Rome are mentioned alongside of one another (EH 4.23.10 end). In similar fashion is it likewise probable that the orthodoxy of Ignatian Antioch is the orthodoxy not only of those who have been privileged to experience the charity of Rome, but also of those "others" whom Rome was accustomed to teach (see above, 121).

If we ask to what degree donations of money could be of importance in the warfare of the spirits, our imagination would have no [[123]] difficulty in suggesting all kinds of ways. In this context it is to the point to adduce further statements of Ignatius revealing to us needs and desires on the part of Christians which could be met by material gifts. In the letter to Polycarp, he turns his attention with pacifying intent to slaves who wish their freedom to be purchased at the church's expense (4.3). [127] If, as is certainly the case, many a slave joined the church because he hoped for the fulfillment of such a wish on the basis of the celebrated mutual solidarity of the "brethren," one can also imagine how within the Christian world that group which had at its disposal the more ample resources would draw many slaves to itself -- and indeed, how many others from the poorer classes, who from anxiety were often scarcely able to contemplate the coming day! Certainly Dionysius, the outspoken enemy of heresy, cannot intend that his words, "You relieve the poverty of the needy" (EH 4.23.10), be understood to mean that Roman abundance indiscriminately blessed all poverty-stricken souls, provided only they were baptized.

Moreover the Christian communities were at an early date already making the attempt, often with success, to buy fellow believers free from prison and from the claws of the judiciary.26 And Ignatius' letter to the Romans is filled with expressions of his worry lest such an eventuality befall him from the side of the Romans. The encomium of Eusebius upon the Emperor Constantine (3.58) teaches us that Rome viewed it as an altogether legitimate practice in religious controversy to tip the scales with golden weights: "In his beneficient concern that as many as possible be won for the teaching of the gospel, the emperor also made rich donations there (in Phoenician Heliopolis] for the support of the poor, with the aim of rousing them even in this way to the acceptance of saving truth. He too could almost have said with the Apostle: `In every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is to be proclaimed' [Phil. 1.18]."

He who has sufficient funds at his disposal is in a position to recruit assistants who can devote themselves without distraction to the tasks for which they are paid. And again it is Rome, so far as I know, where a Christian official first appears on the scene with a [[124]] fixed salary. The Little Labyrinth relates how the Monarchians in Rome, when they were obliged to form their own community, induced the Roman confessor Natalius to become their bishop for a monthly stipend of 150 denarii (EH 5.28.10). Here the accent falls upon the word "fixed," for the principle that the laborer deserves his wages was familiar to Christians from the beginning [cf. Matt. 10.10 // Luke 10.7, 1 Tim. 5.18]. On this there was no substantial difference between orthodox and heretics. [128] Apollonius, the opponent of the Montanists, reports already of Montanus himself that he offered salaria to those who preached Christianity according to his interpretation, and thus paid them for their activity (EH 5.18.2). Very perceptible here is the annoyance of the churchman Apollonius that the necessary funds flow in to the heresiarch in such ample supply. It also follows from what he says immediately thereafter about the heretic Themiso (EH 5.18.5) that he does not need to be enlightened as to the great importance that money possesses in the conflict of religions as everywhere else.

Finally, if we want to know in what way the Roman church raised the funds necessary for her purposes, even in this regard the sources are not entirely silent. From Tertullian we hear that Marcion, on the occasion of his joining the Roman Christian community, handed his fortune over to the church (Against Marcion 4.4). It was a matter of the very considerable sum of 200,000 sesterces (Prescription against Heretics 30). The amount of the gift and the person of the donor explain the fact that this case was entered into recorded history, but it will not have been unique. It is much more likely that the Roman church, for the well being of all, assessed her members according to each individual's resources and ability to give. And that among their ranks were to be found well-to-do people in larger measure than elsewhere is shown by the writings produced at Rome -- 1 Peter, 1 Clement, and Hermas27 -- and by personalities such as the consul Titus Flavius Clemens together with his wife Flavia Domitilla the emperor's niece, and Manius Acilius Glabrio the consul of the year 91.28

If Rome is astute in the use of tactics, it knows also how to take advantage of every kind of situation. Again I should like to point [[125]] to Dionysius, who as the occupant of the Roman outpost of Corinth is at least as much an informant concerning Roman ecclesiastical Christianity as a witness to the history of Christian Corinth. Among the letters by which he seeks to be of influence on behalf of orthodoxy is to be found one "to the church of Amastris together with the other churches throughout Pontus" (EH 4.23.6). The final words hama tais kata Ponton belong of course to those expressions in Eusebius which are to be accepted only with caution in that they are regularly introduced at those places where the intention is to emphasize the expanse of the church (see below, 190 f.). [129] Here the phrase, which unites the entire province with the city to which the letter is sent, is all the more suspect in that immediately before this, Dionysius is said to have written "to the church of Gortyna together with the other churches throughout Crete" (EH 4.23.5). But this can hardly be accurate, since Eusebius himself knows and states that in the Cretan area, Dionysius wrote not only to Gortyna but also to the Knossians (EH 4.23.7), who therefore fall outside the circle of the "other churches." I am of the opinion, therefore, that in regard to Pontus we can be assured only that Dionysius was writing to Amastris. But at this very point no ground must be yielded to a recent twist of interpretation which even outclasses Eusebius and impedes our access to reality. Harnack characterizes the person and influence of Dionysius as follows: "Dionysius then was of such high repute in the churches that advice and edification were solicited of him from far and wide. I know of no other such example from the whole of the second century. . . . The area encompassed by the pastoral and ecclesiastical influence of Dionysius reached from Pontus to Rome."29 In my opinion, these words do not give an accurate picture. In Amastris it is by no means "the church" and its bishop Palmas who request his advice; rather, he explains that he has written at the instigation of two Christian brothers, Bacchylides and Elpistos. The bishop Palmas remains in the background. It is mentioned that his name occurred in the letter, but unfortunately, we do not know in what context (EH 4.23.6). For the rest, the letter contains exhortations to chastity and allusions to heretical error. I should like then to suppose a state of affairs in which personal contacts have resulted from the sea traffic between Corinth and Amastris, contacts which [[126]] Dionysius seeks to exploit in the interests of orthodoxy. Whether and to what degree the newly founded relations extended into the province, remains almost completely uncertain.

It was argued earlier (above, 75 f.) that also in Crete Dionysius was dealing not with "the churches" but at best with orthodox elements in a Christianity heavily permeated with heresy. That one certainly cannot speak in superlatives of the success he achieved there has been intimated [130] and will become even more evident below. Although in the spirit of Eusebius, who praises "the inspired diligence" of the bishop (EH 4.23.1), one can say with Harnack that "advice and edification were solicited of him from far and wide," Dionysius himself allows us to surmise what really happened when he complains: "At the request of some brethren, I wrote letters. But the apostles of the devil crammed them full of weeds, deleting one thing and adding another" (EH 4.23.12). Dionysius, then, writes to other areas when orthodox brethren request him to do so. But when they arrive, his letters are exposed to severe hazards on the part of other Christians, and are by no means treated in "the churches" with the esteem that, under his leadership, was accorded in Corinth to 1 Clement and the letter of the Roman bishop Soter (EH 4.23.11). Wherever Dionysius believes he has found points of contact and can hope for an audience, he tries to canvass on behalf of Roman-Corinthian orthodoxy. The results varied. At Amastris the undertaking was evidently a success. In any case, twenty years later we see Palmas, whose name appears in Dionysius' letter, as the senior bishop of Pontus and on the side of Rome in the Easter controversy (EH 5.23.3). The Roman- Corinthian influence had, accordingly, also gained ground in Pontus outside of Amastris in the course of two decades. Dionysius accomplished much less at Knossos on Crete. On the subject of chastity, he had urged the local bishop Pinytus not to force upon the brethren a burden too severe but rather to consider the weakness of the great mass of people and had received an answer that represents a polite refusal (EH 4.23.7-8; see above, 75 f.). To be sure, Eusebius takes pains to detect in the answer from Knossos something like admiration for the great bishop of Corinth. In truth, however, there prevails in Knossos only astonishment at how easily the head of the Corinthian community acquiesces in the imperfection of the multitude. Pinytus then expresses candidly to his fellow [[127]] bishop the expectation that "on another occasion he might offer more solid nourishment and feed the Christian flock with a letter of more mature substance, so that they do not, by remaining continually at the level of milkish teachings, imperceptibly grow old under instructions fit for children." At heart, Eusebius is obviously much more favorably disposed toward the answer than to the letter of Dionysius, [131] and in viewing the exchange of letters breaks into praise, not of the latter, but of Pinytus.

In his moderation Dionysius certainly did not feel himself to be in opposition to Rome. Rome also was not in favor of forcing the issue and demanding the impossible. It much more favored the gentler manner, with sinners as with heretics. Official Rome was prepared to make significant concessions just as much on the question of second repentance30 as in the controversy over the baptism of heretics. And so Dionysius, with his advice not to make life too difficult for sinners within the Catholic church, was probably following a suggestion or even a directive issuing from Rome. Rome had only recently discovered that in the matter of the relentless demand for chastity one could not successfully compete with a Marcion. And so the preference was to stick by "the great multitude," whom to have on one's side was in the long run a guarantee of success.

Rome's astuteness displayed and proved itself in other respects also. Rome knows how to call suitable leaders to its helm. Hermas may be ever so effective in his activity as a prophet, but for leadership of the community his brother Pius is better suited. And without filling a church office, Justin turns his rich erudition to good account in the controversy with pagans, Jews, and heretics. Rome can wait, and does not hurry the development along, but just as little does it allow favorable opportunities to escape. Anicetus is a courteous opponent of Polycarp on the matter of the celebration of Easter (EH 5.24.16-17), whereas on the same issue Victor is extremely violent in his confrontation with Polycrates of Ephesus and those in agreement with him (EH 5.24.7 and 9; see also above 97). [[128]]

Roman Christianity, so far as we know, was from the beginning under the heaviest pressure from external enemies. The persecutions under Nero and Domitian, which in recorded church history are counted as the two earliest (EH 3.17 end), were exclusively or at least predominantly Roman affairs. And Hebrews and 1 Clement, as also 1 Peter, [132] show us that toward the end of the first century the believers of the capital city could no longer feel safe. Even when the membership of their own community was not directly affected, arrivals such as Paul or Ignatius, sent to Rome to pour out their blood there as Christians, made repeatedly clear to them how little they had to expect from the benevolence of the world outside. Such experiences forced them to develop attributes of shrewdness, energy, and communal unity. And since the integrity of Roman Christianity's faith seems to have been spared severe disturbances up to a point well into the second century (see above, 113f.), there grew up here the one church of dependable orthodoxy, whose sound health repulsed, after a short and violent attack, even the Marcionite contagion that had invaded.

Marcion presented the greatest danger to which Roman orthodoxy was exposed. That, of course, does not mean that apart from him the Christian faith at Rome in the generation from around 135 to about 170 assumed an entirely uniform shape. Besides Marcion we know also of personalities and movements that would have been able in this period to give the development of religious life at Rome a turn away from orthocloxy if the direction of orthodoxy had not been already so firmly set. Although it is not entirely certain that Marcion's disciple Lucanus was active at Rome,31 Marcion's precursor Cerdo lived there under Hyginus (136-140), and according to the account of Irenaeus (AH 3.4.3), was not on good terms with the majority of Roman Christians. According to the same authority and passage, Valentinus also appeared in Rome at that time, flourished under Pius and continued until Anicetus, i.e. from about 136-160 in all. Tertullian, who of course allows no opportunity for maligning any heretic to escape him, reports of Valentinus that he seceded from the church because he had suffered a defeat in the episcopal election. Out of vengefulness he set himself henceforth to the task of battling against the truth (Against Valentinus 4, [Prescription against Heretics 30]). What measure of veracity there is in Tertullian's account evades [[129]] precise determination.32 If there should be something in it, it would indicate that Valentinus' assets of ability and eloquence, acknowledged even by Tertullian (Against Valentinus 4), were not able to make up for his lack of followers. [133] That does not exclude the possibility that the Valentinian movement sustained itself in Rome for a longer period of time. The "Italian" branch of the school in particular can certainly claim association with this city, and even at the end of the second century a presbyter named Florinus attracted unfavorable attention through writings which show that "he had allowed himself to become ensnared in the error of Valentinus."33

The "many" Valentinians and Marcionites whom Polycarp won over to the church in Rome under Anicetus (154-165) are no more significant than the "many" disciples who at the same time and place, and according to the same authority (Irenaeus, AH 3.3.4 and 1.25.6 [=20.4]) were won over by the Carpocratian Marcellina -- the former were no great gain, the latter no appreciable danger. Neither did any danger for Rome emanate from Tatian. After Roman Christianity had rid itself of the Marcionites (and Valentinians), there still remained, to be sure, the possibility of differing styles of belief within the church, but not of serious heresy. In his Dialogue, Justin distinguishes between the orthodox and the "godless and unrighteous hairesiotai" (80.3-5), in which characterization one detects with little difficulty the Marcionites. The orthodox, however, fall into two groups for Justin: those who only in a general way share the "pure and holy outlook (gnwmh) of the Christians" (80.2) and others who are orqognwmones kata panta, i.e. who possess in all particulars the right gnwmh (80.5). The latter share with Justin the belief in the closely allied ideas of the millennium and the resurrection of the flesh. This strikes me as characteristic of the situation in Rome as it begins to take form and to become established in the second half of the second century. Essentially unanimous in the faith and in the standards of Christian living, tightly organized and methodically governed by the monarchical bishop, the Roman church toward the close of the second century feels inclined and able to extend further the boundaries of her influence. In Asia, Syria, and Egypt we saw her aiming at conquests and replacing by a more resolute procedure the earlier, more cautious attempts to work her will at Corinth. //end ch 6//


[1] This is the opinion of E. Schwartz, Charakterkpfe aus der griechichen Literatur, 2. Reihe\3 (Leipzig: Teubner, 1919), p. 137; E. Meyer, Ursprung und Anfnge des Christentums 3 (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1923 repr. 1962), p. 441.1; H. Lietzmann, "Zwei Notizen zu Paulus" Sb Berlin 8 for 1930, 7 [= 155].

[2] Harnack, Geschichte, 2 (Chronologie).1: 703-707.

[3] See Kirsch, Kirche, p. 218.

[4] Cf., e.g., Knopf, Zeitalter, pp. 182-86.

[5] Cf. Schwartz, in his GCS edition of EH, vol. 3: p. CCXXV.

[6] This point is acknowledged by the Paul who in the Acts of Paul (an ecclesiastical and anti-gnostic work coming from the time of Dionysius of Corinth) writes to the Corinthians: "For I delivered to you in the beginning what I received from the holy apostles who were before me, who at all times were together with the Lord Jesus Christ" ("3 Corinthians" 3.4; ET by R. McL. Wilson in Hennecke-Schneemelcher 2: 375; see above, 42 n. 99). In the Epistola Apostolorum 31-33, a work coming perhaps from the same time and having a similiar purpose, the twelve initiate Paul into the teachings which they have received from the Lord (ET by R. E. Taylor in Hennecke-Schneemelcher 1: 213 f.; text ed. by C. Schmidt in TU 43, pp. 96-102).

[7] Hoi sofwtatoi Klhmhs kai Tatianos hoi xronografoi, ed. L. Dindorf, Chronographie 10 (Bonn, 1831): 242. The passage is also cited in Sthlin's GCS edition of Clement of Alexandria, vol. 3: pp. 229 f. and p. LXX.

[8] See Zahn, Forschungen 3: 56-59.

[9] Harnack, Geschichte, 2 (Chronologie).1: 119 ff., 123 ff., 208 ff.

[10] Origen, Homily on Luke, 6.1: ton meta ton makarion Petron ths Antioxeias deuteron episkopon. Cf. Harnack, Geschichte 2 (Chronologie).1: 209. [For a different interpretation, see A. A. T. Ehrhardt, The Apostolic Succession in the First Two Centuries of the Church (London: Lutterworth, 1953), p. 137 and n. 2.]

[11] John Chrysostom Ecomium on Eustathius of Antioch (PG 50: 597 ff.); Theodoret Epist. 151 (PG 83: 1440).

[12] Cf. Harnack, Geschichte, 2 (Chronologie).1: 191 f., 703.

[13] Harnack, Geschichte, 2 (Chronologie).1: 707.

[14] The Roman, and not Alexandrian, origin of the legend of Mark as founder of the church at Alexandria would stand out still more clearly if it were still possible today to accept such a judgment as Harnack's on the so-called Monarchian prologues to the Latin gospels (ed. H. Lietzmann, Kleine Texte 1\2 [1908]: 12-16; cf. 16.16 f.: [Marcus] Alexandriae episcopus fuit): "But they originated in Rome.... The time ... is the time of Victor and Zephyrinus (ca. 190-217)" (Geschichte 2 (Chronologie.2: 204 f.): But more recent research, with which Harnack has also agreed (Evangelien-Prologe, p. 3) places the Monarchian prologues in the fourth century and later than Eusebius, so that the latter becomes the earliest known witness for that legend.

[15] On this point see E. Schwartz, "Unzeitgemsse Beobachtungen zu den Clementinen," ZNW 31 (1932): 151-199, esp. 159 ff.

[16] On Laodicea and Antioch in the ps.-Clementines see also Hom. 12.1, 2; 13.1; 14.12; Rec. 7.2, 24; 10.53 ff. and 58.

[17] One branch of the tradition has Peter before his departure ordain another bishop and several presbyters.

[18] So Papias is called in Irenaeus AH 5.33.4. But Eusebius can rank Irenaeus himself with the band of the arxaioi (EH 4.22.9). And he even gives the same value to Dionysius of Corinth (EH 3.4.10).

[19] Occasionally even the apostles are separated into ranks: the Lord gives gnosis to James, John, and Peter; these impart it to the remaining apostles, who in turn give it to the seventy, to whom Barnabas belongs -- Clement of Alexandria, Outlines 7/13 (GCS ed. Sthlin, 3: 199) = EH 2.1.4. Or there occurs the combination of terms hoi arxaioi presbuteroi -- Clement of Alexandria On the Passover (ed, Sthlin 3; 216.5) = EH 6.13.9. Or there appear classifications such as hoi anekaqen presbuteroi= the oiginal presbyters -- Clement of Alex., Outlines 6/8 (ed. Sthlin, 3: 197) = EH 6.14.5. Or an apostolic tradition is designated in Clement as paradosis twn pro autou faskwn = tradition of his predecessors-- Outlines 7/14 (ed. Sthlin, 3: 200) = EH 2.9.2. Elsewhere Clement speaks of ho makarios presbuteros -- Outlines ?/22 (ed. Sthlin, 3: 201.26) = EH 6.14.4. Hoi presbuteroi appear in Clement's Prophetic Excerpts 11.1 and in 27.1, ouk egrafon hoi presbuteroi.

[20] In Eusebius EH 6.13.8: peri eautou dhloi hws eggista ths twn apostolwn genomenou diadoxes.

[21] Strom. 7.[17.]108.1. Also Hippolytus, Ref. 7.20: Matthias [124] dispenses secret teaching which he received through special instruction from Jesus.

[22] Epistle to Flora 5.10 (= Epiphanius, Her. 33.3- 7; ed. A. von Harnack, Kleine Texte 9\2 [1912]: 9 f.; [see also Vlker, Quellen, pp. 87-93]): acioumenh ths apostolikhs paradosews hn ek diadoxes kai emeis pareilhfamen meta kai tou kanonisai pantas tous logous te tou swter hmwn didaskalia. [ET in Grant, Gnosticism Anthology, pp. 184- 190.]

[23] Irenaeus, in Eusebius EH 5.20.7 calls Polycarp "the apostolic presbyter" (o apostolikos presbuteros).

[24] Eusebius EH 2.23.3: "Hegesippus, who belonged to the generation of the first successors to the apostles" (ho Hghsippos epi ths prwtes twn apostolwn genomenos diadoxhs).

[25] See Bauer, Ignatius, pp. 242 f.

[26] Cf. the anti-Montanist Apollonius (ca. 197) in Eusebius EH 5.18.9 and also 5; Didascalia 18 (ed. Connolly, 160; see below, 244 n. 7); Cyprian Ep. 62; Apostolic Constitutions 4.9 [see also the story of Peregrinus in Lucian's treatise by that name 12-13; ET in Loeb edition of Lucian].

[27] Knopf Zeitalter, pp. 74-83.

[28] Achelis Christentum 2: 258.

[29] Harnack, Briefsammlung p. 37. The italics are mine.

[30] Knopf, Zeitalter p. 433: "Hermas' preaching of repentence made extraordinary, even extreme concessions to the folk of the community." "Originally the preaching of repentence was unconditional: to all shall all sins be forgiven." The brother of the "bishop" Pius hardly supported views on this point which would not have been approved in high places. [According to the "Muratorian Canon," "Hermas" was the brother of Pius.]

[31] Harnack, Marcion\2, pp. 172 and 401*-403*.

[32] Cf. E. Preuschen, RPTK\3 20 (1908): 396 f.

[33] Irenaeus Syriac fragment 28 in Harvey's edition, vol. 2, p. 457. .